By a show of hands, who here hates spam? Obviously, I’m going to be able to see your hand (not like you’d raise it while sitting in front of your computer…), but I’m pretty sure that you hate spam as much as the next person.
When it comes to Spam on your WordPress site, it is getting harder and harder to catch what is real and what is fake. Shady marketers are not just using Spam Bots to do their dirty work. Many have opted into paying people to carry out a sneakier spam approach. With so many using this tactic, comments and pingbacks that are actually worthy of the trash can are not landing there anymore.
So how do you go about dealing with all of that? Well, the easiest way is to use a Spam Blocking plugin that can outsmart those spammers.
One of the best Spam Blocking Plugins is the Akismet plugin for WordPress.
What is Akismet?
The Akismet plugin is a comment spam blocking service which can be used for WordPress as well as Drupal and Joomla.
The plugin uses an algorithm to analyze comments and pingbacks that are submitted to your site and sorts through the clutter to figure out which ones are worth keeping and which ones you may want to hurl violently into the virtual trash can. This is a handy tool since it eliminates about 99% of the spam sorting work for you.
And if you’re wondering how on earth the creators of the plugin came up with such a strange name, you’re not alone.
The name of the plugin comes from coupling the name of the company who created the plugin (Automattic) with the word ‘Kismet’ which means fate or destiny. Therefore, the the name of the plugin actually means, ‘automatic fate’ which is entirely applicable since the fate of your comment spam is to automatically be thrown in the spam folder when you use the Akismet plugin — aren’t they just so clever?
Why Use Akismet Over Other Spam Blocking Plugins
First off, you should be using a spam blocker — no exceptions. Spam is not only a headache to sort through and deal with on your own, but it can hurt your SEO efforts in the long run. Spam is a large problem in the internet world, and if you’re not blocking it, then you’re really just rolling with the punches…
It’s true that Akismet isn’t the only spam blocking plugin out there, but are there reasons that you should use it over others? Well, in many cases, yes, but those reasons are often largely based on opinion. However, that doesn’t lessen the need for blocking spam on your site.
So what are the upsides to this spam blocking plugin? Well, firstly, it was created by a great WordPress company.
Automattic is the company behind many other well-known WP products and services in the web sphere including, WordPress.com, Polldaddy, Jetpack, and VaultPress, just to name a few. Many of the team members there are also the minds behind the WordPress core updates that we are blessed with every few months or so.
The other reason is that the plugin works. The algorithm used was made to look at all the warning signs of spammy comments and pingbacks and handle them accordingly.
There are occasions where the plugin will mark a well-meaning comment as spam for one reason or another, however, those are usually few and far between. And if you ever catch one in the spam folder, you can simply move it out of there and approve it and Akismet will learn from those actions.
Since the plugin comes from a good company, you can also rest assured that it is of high-quality and will see all the updates it needs without fear of it simply being abandoned, as is the case with many plugins in the realms of WordPress.
Getting set up and started with Akismet is rather simple, but for the sake of being thorough, let’s walk you through it anyway.
How To Install and Activate the Akismet Plugin
In most cases, if you did a WordPress installation yourself using a Quick Install method via your server cPanel, then you probably have Akismet installed in your plugins area of your dashboard just waiting to be activated.
If not, you can do a simple search for it in your dashboard by clicking ‘Add New’ under the Plugins area in your WP Dashboard Menu and putting the name of it into the search bar.
Once Akismet is installed, click the option to Activate it. This, however, is not the end of the journey. The Akismet plugin needs an API key to actually start working, so you’ll need to acquire that in order for the activation to take effect.
Finding Your API Key For Akismet
If you’re a Jetpack Plugin user, then you’re in luck because that eliminates about everything you need to do from this point on.
After you click on activate for Akismet (and assuming you have Jetpack already installed and activated properly), then you will have an option asking if you would like to activate Akismet via Jetpack using the email address that is connected to Jetpack.
If you want to go this route, then simply click ‘Use This Email Address’ and the rest of the work will be done for you. Your API Key will be automatically added the correct area and you’ll be setup with a Free Personal Akismet Account (this is only for personal blogs and non-business sites, but we’ll touch on that later.)
Now, if you don’t use Jetpack, then you’re going to have to trek the longer road to getting Akismet setup. But don’t you worry your cute little head — it’s easier than you think.
Go to ‘Installed Plugins’ in your Dashboard and select ‘Activate’ under the Akismet Plugin. A large green bar will pop up after that saying that you need to activate your Akismet Account — click that.
In the settings area of Akismet, you will find something similar to the image above. Click on the button ‘Get Your API Key’.
That will open up the Akismet Homepage for WordPress. Now click on the big blue button to move on.
If you don’t already have a WordPress.com account setup, then you will need to create an account there in order to move on with getting your Akismet account and plugin setup and activated properly (you won’t be able to use Akismet without a WordPress.com account). Fill out the required fields and then click ‘Sign Up’ to move on.
Alternatively, if you already have a WordPress.com Account, then click the link in the form and sign into your account.
You should now be on the screen you see here. This is where you will choose a subscription basis for Akismet. Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“This isn’t free? Forget that!”
It’s true that Akismet is a premium plugin, but don’t go running for the hills just yet. I’m going to show you how you can use Akismet for free before you decide to opt-in to a payment plan — because I’m awesome like that. (Just kidding, but hey, free is good right?)
You’ll notice that you have 3 subscription options (not including the options to include VaultPress). Assuming that you’re just setting up Akismet for a personal type of website and not for a business or large network, then you can select the Personal subscription option.
You will come to the payment page for your subscription and the price will automatically be set to $36 for the year. If you really can’t afford the price right now or if you just want to see if you even like Akismet before you pay for it, then slide the price point on the bar down to zero.
Enter your first and last name and then complete your registration. A new popup will appear in the new window that will show your nice and new API Key. Copy the Key and head back to your WP Dashboard.
Go back to your Akismet settings area and then paste and save your API Key in the designated area. Save that, and you’ll have finally fully activated your Akismet plugin — yay!
I would like to state that even if you can use the plugin for free, it’s always nice to jump on board and support something you like. If you find that Akismet is a plugin that you like and plan to use for a long time, then why not pitch a bit of money in? Price for an entire year starts as low as $6 which is less than what I spend every day at Starbucks (yes, I’m one ofthose bloggers…)
Obviously, you’re not obligated to do this, but it’s always nice to help support something you really like.
Wrapping It Up
Akismet is my personal go-to Spam Blocking plugin, and getting it all setup and running really isn’t that hard. If you’re not using a spam blocker or you’re juggling with a few and you’re not sure which to go with, why not give Akismet a go?
Have you used Akismet before? What do you think about it? Do you have another spam blocking plugin that you just can’t live with out? Let us know what you think.
By Ariel Rule
Ariel is a WordPress Web Designer, Freelance Blogger and small business owner. When she’s not working with clients or writing on her Mac, she is drinking coffee and spending time with her amazing boys.